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The impact of new information technology on urban and regional structure in Europe

Lookup NU author(s): Emeritus Professor John Goddard OBE, Professor Andrew Gillespie, Alf Thwaites


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This paper discusses the revolutionary nature of information technology which affects the what, where and how of the production and delivery of goods and services. It suggests that it is virtually impossible to come to any quantitative assessment of the nature and timing of the impact of these technological changes on individual cities. What is more important is to assess the capacity of cities to respond to the challenge of new information technology. The extent to which they are able to adapt to this challenge will be deeply conditioned by their infrastructure, industrial, commercial and institutional capacity. Areas which lack the necessary telecommunications networks, innovative enterprises and public and private agencies well attuned to the new technology will lag behind in the race to take advantages of the opportunities. Drawing on a major research project undertaken for the European Commission the paper assesses the major components of the environment necessary to participate in the information technology revolution. It reviews developments in telecommunications networks, switching and services and uptake of services within the regions of Europe. The analysis suggests that not withstanding the distance shrinking potential of telecommunications, the incremental process of network modernization coupled with the high levels of demand in major centres is likely to result in a continuing reinforcement of existing locations rather than any significant dispersal of economic activity. The paper goes on to review the impact of information technology within manufacturing and service companies; this suggests that there are few indications that new technologies will reverse present location tendencies. The paper concludes, nevertheless, that there is an urgent need to promote the widespread geographical diffusion of new information technology and in this respect urban and regional policies have an important role to play.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Goddard JB, Gillespie AE, Thwaites AT, Robinson JF

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Land Development Studies

Year: 1986

Volume: 3

Issue: 1

Pages: 11-32

Print publication date: 01/01/1986

ISSN (print): 0264-0821

ISSN (electronic): 1466-4453


DOI: 10.1080/02640828608723897

Notes: First presented at the ‘Landtronics’ Conference in London, June 1985.


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